I’m generally pretty comfortable and confident living and traveling solo. But when I moved to Paris, I had a few fears:
• That I’d have a seizure somewhere out in the streets and be totally incommunicado when I came to beneath a crowd of stylish Frenchies and/or ambulance EMTs, muttering merde, merde.
• That I’d lose my fake teeth and walk around like a crazy gap-toothed lady.
• That I’d have some sort of apartment catastrophe: a break-in, flood, fire… or just get locked out and have no one to call.
• Or that Milo would be stricken with some illness and I wouldn’t be able to find a vet or communicate my crazy cat’s woes.
A couple of these are warranted: Thanks to ‘abnormal brainwave activity’ and the loss of two front teeth in a bizarre accident in Ramallah (seriously), I always have those first two fears lurking in the back of my mind.
And the apartment and cat things are just from feeling more vulnerable in a city and home that’s not my own. Back in New York, Amee was my emergency contact, and she had a set of keys to my apartment. So did my doormen and super. And I had a roster of doctors, a dentist and veterinarian whom I knew and trusted. I knew I always had back-up, come fire, flood or medical mishap.
Lucky for me, the first fear that’s actually been realized here in Paris had to do with Milo. (I’m horrible.) When I came back from New York, I noticed a few clumps of fur around the apartment—like, major clumps. It was bizarre. And a little gross. The next day I came home from work, there was more fur. And then more and more and more. My cat has suddenly taken to ripping out giant tufts of his fur, and it’s absolutely disconcerting.
I Googled “cat pulling out hair like crazy” to find some likely causes, of which there are several. It could be an allergy—to something in the air or food. It could be a parasite, mites or fleas (ew, I hope not). Or it could be stress—a cat with ocd. Wtf.
Admittedly, I kept putting off finding a vet. I did some Google searches and asking around, which didn’t yield the magical “bilingual vet in the second arrondisement” results that I was hoping for. I didn’t know what to do. But then a lovely colleague who has a couple cats jumped in and found the name of a vet right in my neighborhood. I walked in one morning—so much easier for me to speak face-to-face than try to communicate over the phone—and explained that my French was horrible but my cat was even worse and I needed their help. Two days later, I had Milo on the examination table, with the vet and her assistant explaining to me in Franglais all the different possibilities that I had found online. But their disposition and medicine-dispensing capabilities made me feel so much better.
It will be a process of elimination, figuring out why Milo is pulling out his fur. But at least I have some professional guidance and meds to make it more pleasant for mon cher pussycat. And at least I’ve confronted one of my fears and it’s not as bad as I originally thought it would be.